Introductory Photoshop Lessons and Tips

This page is designed for beginner photoshop users who are trying to find the essential tools to editing photos.  But these are just the absolute basics, there are many more possibilities that are more advanced.

Probably the first thing you should learn about would be adjustment layers.  Adjustment layers can be used to augment many things in pictures and if you change your mind they can be instantly erased.  They are a very convenient way to edit pictures.  Once you have a picture ready to work on in photoshop there are two ways to create adjustment layers.

1. You can create one by clicking on the layer menu and selecting one of the new adjustment layers.

adju layer

2. The much more convenient way is to click on the little half black and white circle in the layers box to open a selection of all adjustment layers.

ajdustment layer

The most basic adjustment layer is the brightness/contrast layer, the others are best learned by experimenting.  To learn how to use the Layers adjustment layer read the first section of our “photo touchups tutorial.”

This is the Layers menu, usually located in the lower right corner of the screen.  You will need to get very familiar with the different parts of this menu.  The layers stack up in order so if you change the order the picture will most likely look different.  The layer that is selected in blue is the layer I am currently working, it is easy to get frustrated when you try to do something to the background picture but nothing happens because you have the wrong layer selected.  Always make sure you have the layer you want selected.  If you don’t like any of the layers you can delete them by dragging them into the trash that is selected in red.


This is the History menu, Usually located in the right middle of the screen.  This is where you can undo any previous step that you have made.  To undo a step just click on it and drag it to the trash which is circled in red.


This is the Navigation menu, usually located in the upper right corner of the screen.  In this menu you can zoom in and out of the current picture and actually see how big it really is.  To zoom in or out click on the slider which is circled in red and drag it left or right to zoom out or in.


This is the tools menu, it is usually located on the left side of the screen.  This is where you choose what you want to do at any given time.  Some are basic and pretty straight forward to learn but some take some serious time and effort to master.  Look through some of our picture editing tutorials for directions on using many of these tools.  But most of them you just need to experiment with until you figure them out.  The circled in red part of the menu is the color selection area.  The top one of the colors (black shown here) is what will appear if you use any drawing or text tool.  To change the working color click on it and a menu will appear for you to choose another one.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: